Flanders

I thought I would write a little in relation to Veteran’s Day.  For the most part, it seems this holiday is forgotten in the United States.  Really, American’s celebrate the same day on Memorial Day in May.  I can understand the European View of holding it on the 11th of November.  It is the day WWI ended.

I remember well the time I first experienced Veteran’s Day.  I sat in the Eccles Ward Chapel in Patricroft, England.  There on 11 November 1999 I sat.  The services started at 11 AM.  We had the hymn, opening prayer, and a few comments by the Bishop until 11:11 arrived.  It was then we took two minutes to remember what was done.

Growing up in Idaho means we had little or no realization of any war.  There are no war memorials outside of cemeteries to commemorate anything.  No war in modern days has taken place anywhere near Idaho.  Even the American Civil War means little to Idahoans.  My grandfather served in the Philippines during WWII but he speaks so little of it.  I had Uncles and Great Uncles who perished in WWI and WWII.  I had been to their graves but they were the dead, just like the other dead in the cemetery.  The idea of dying for one’s country meant very little to me.

One of my first memories of England is the day after we arrived.  We were taken into Altrincham Town Centre and there we proselyted for an hour or two on the way to the mission office.  I did notice the cenotaph.  I thought how oddly placed it was.  It was something that we have relegated mostly to cemeteries in the United States.  Once and a while you find one in front of a town or city hall.

While I served in Hyde, Cheshire once of the way we knew where to turn in town was at the cenotaphs.  The same in Dukinfield.  When we arrived early at one member’s house we would loiter at the cenotaph to street contact until time for dinner.  A number of times I thought how oddly placed these things were.  I knew they were naming those who died in the ‘Great War’.  For some reason or another I thought they doubled up on the names over the various cenotaphs.  It never occurred to me names are not typically duplicated on these things, or if they do, the intention is not to do so.

Suddenly I found myself sitting in a church meeting remembering.  These souls did not fight for my country.  However I felt come into my heart a gratitude for their sacrifice.  Could I do the same thing if called upon?  Somehow a dawning realization came upon me of the hundreds if not thousands of names I had seen on cenotaphs in my first year in England.  They were everywhere.  There were continuous reminders of the dead who fought for their country.

About a month later I found myself walking the streets of Runcorn, Cheshire.  There is a large cenotaph probably around 15 feet tall.  The bus would drive by it every day.  I could not help but notice the little red, fake flowers on popcicle sticks stuck in the flower bed all around it.  The cenotaph meant more to me by this point but what were the little red flowers?  I noticed each of them had a name written on them and they appeared hand-made.

I asked what the little red flowers meant that were still scattered everywhere a month after the 11th of November.  I was then told about Flanders Fields and the poppies.  The poem was shared with me.  It made sense, I felt the poignancy of it.  The imagery is intense while the poem isn’t all that catchy to me.  In fact, some of it still doesn’t make sense to me so I share only the first verse here:

In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Would I have this type of courage?  Would I be willing to go and serve my country so willingly?  Even if I was drafted, unwillingly?  To set aside all other hopes and aspirations to serve my country?  I did so for my church.  I would think I would be willing to for my nation.  While I am not entirely enamoured with my country at the present, would I still be willing to do it?  Probably.

In fact, I feel some desire to serve in the military.  However my life hasn’t permitted the chance and my wife is against the idea.  I don’t think I will be making that decision.  But I wish to honour those who do and especially those who died in doing so.  Accordingly, when I saw my clock at 11:11 this morning, I stopped for 2 minutes to remember.  What does our future hold?  I don’t know.  But our past is nobler because of these good souls who gave all.  Not only to join, but they never returned.  We were on the side of right then, and our nation was preserved.  I hope and pray our nation continues on the side of right and we will yet be preserved.

An uncle of mine arrived in Whitney, Idaho a year after his death in WWI.  His remains arrived in a lead casket which was buried with great fanfare for the small community.  WWII repeated this scenario with another Uncle, another family line, buried in Richmond, Utah.  His body arrived months later and he was interred with great fanfare.  May we live our lives in such a way, regardless if dying for our nation, but let us die in such a way that the community wishes to come out and pay homage for your great sacrifice for the future of man, good, and our country.

A sketch in the life of William Jonas

(Written by Mabel Andersen Cazier.  This is about William Nelson Jonas 1889-1972  I have maintained spelling and punctuation)

I remember one time, long, long ago, during World War I.  My Uncle Will (Mother’s brother) was called to the services to help win the war against the Germans.

“I wouldn’t mind,” he said to my mother “if I didn’t have to fight and kill.  Oh, how I would hate to take a life, for I know how dear life is to me.”

“Fear not,” said his sis, “maybe the Lord will fix it so a life you can save instead.”

So on that unforgetable day, sun shining brightly outside, he bade all goodby and with tears in his eyes he marched away to serve his country and God.  Time passed, the mail didn’t move fast in those days but we finally received a letter from Uncle Will, the man we prayed for each day.  He stated his thankfulness that he had been assigned to the hospital department where he could spare lives instead of take.  He worked diligently from dawn until night, comforting the goys who were dying.  One time he was a mother to his dying comrad, comforting him as best he could, another he’d be a father pronouncing the blessings on his dying son, or prehaps a wife promising she would always be true and faithful the rest of her life.  Maybe he would be a daughter, maybe a son.  Administering medicine, pills and morphine; moistening the lips of some mother’s dying son.  For four long years this task he did perform.  Then one cold November day the armistice was signed and home came the boys, glad to get home.  Oh, to see Mother and Father and wife who had loved them so dearly and had pled for their life.  Finally he’d see sis, brothers John and Joe.  On the ship he became very ill, desperatly so, and the finger of death was laid down on his head.

“Dear Lord,” he did beg on his knees by his bed, “if my life you will spare I will do anything you say.  I don’t want to die, if you would only spare my life I’d be happy.  Dear Lord have mercy on me.”

The Lord did hear and his life he did spare.  The ship moved on and finally she docked on the shores of the great New England states.  Down the gang plant they hurried as fast as they could.

“God bless America,” they shouted, “may she live forever.”

Oh, to be home once again, happy and free.  No more war no more killing — happy day for them.

The mail!  Ah yes, maybe a letter from home.  Telegrams?  Yes, one for Will, which he opened with fingers that trembled.  “BROTHER JOHN DIED DEC 19. 1918.”

“Oh, dear God, what have I done, I begged for my life and you took my brother’s instead.  Brother John!  Dear John!  How I loved him!  He cheered and comforted me the day I left.  His wife Nellie and two sons so fair, and now little Armina left all alone.  How fitting and proper if I had gone on.  Now I know I never should have asked God to spare me.  I was needed and I was the one to have gone.”

Time went on and years passed, twenty or more.  To Uncle Will six sons were born by his good wife Mary.  Then one day came World War II.  Away marched four of his sons — two in the Navy, one in the Army and one in the Marines.  He knew that this must be.  He waited and as time went on he listened for the knock on the door which would bring him the telegram telling of the death of one of his sons.  One day it came, “I have bad news for you, Will.”

“Yes,” he said, “it’s Gayland.”

And the reply was, “yes.”

For days he walked about in a daze.  “Oh dear God, why?”  Then he remembered his promise to God on the ship more than twenty years before, “anything dear Lord if you will only spare my life.”  This he must bare.  Oh, how he did mourn, he grew pale and thin and his life was feared for.  But alas, one night as he lay awake in his bed, the room because bright and there by his bed stood his son Gayland.

“Father,” he said, “I grieve to see you morn so.  All is well, do not feel bad.  Soon I will come for you too and then we will be happy together.”

As he gazed upon his son a great peace settled over him and he knew that all was well.

Thanks be given

There is not a whole lot to report on at the present.  We enjoyed a Thanksgiving here in blessed Virginia.

Amanda and I drove to Massanutten, a resort up in the hills.  We went up to spend Thanksgiving with Amanda’s Uncle and Aunt.  It turned out to be an interesting day.  I enjoyed the drive up to the area.  Gordonsville was the highlight of the day, the town having a personality completely its own.  A rare thing it seems these days.

Massanutten wasn’t anything to boast about.  They do have a very large indoor water park.  Other than that, it was just a bunch of condos in the middle of the mountains.  Don’t get me wrong, the mountains were beautiful.  How much more beautiful without the “hello, here I am” presence of the resort? 

Amanda and I have determined we will never go out to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal again.  It seems to undermine what the day is about.  Who would have ever thought it was Thanksgiving.  Where was any resemblance of Thanksgiving, other than a commercial version of the foods associated with the date? 

We went back and pretty much watched the TV for the rest of the day.  Driving home, we were relieved to leave the situation which seemed lacking so much.

Hopefully, I can pay some homage to the day here even though the day did not provide much.

This week, I discovered I am the posterity of individuals who lived at Jamestown.  Yes, next years celebration of 400 years in America, honored even by the Queen, is directly relevant to me.  Not just through this nation, but through my ancestors who lived there.  The Clark (or Clarke) family, the Summers, Lumpkin, and Thompson groups I am all related to.  There is a possibility my Clark’s even come from the famous John Clark, who was the Master’s Mate on the Mayflower.  He had been to Jamestown before, imprisoned in Spain, made the trip of the Mayflower, and eventually made his way back to live in Jamestown.  He died not too much afterwards.  I am also a descendent of the Graham Clan who settled parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  They extended into Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio as well.  I am an American very deep in some roots.  One of those Grahams was a personal friend of George Washington, and convinced him to help endow a new school he had founded.  Yep, a Graham founded Washington and Lee.  My history includes three future presidents, universities, and other numerous recorded aids to society.

My roots expand the ocean many times.  My roots run to Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England.  My ancestors were in the court of rulers; my ancestors even ruled parts of the Roman Empire.  My ancestors come from Sweden, Norway, and the largest number from Germany.  I have family who can be traced into Russia, Australia, and a score of other nations.  The foundations I have been given are broad and inclusive.  I am so very fortunate.  Each of us have a history which began long before we were born.

Those blessings extend beyond my family.  This nation, which has its hopes in liberty and freedom are one of the greatest blessings to me.  I am very fortunate.  It may be a weakness in many ways, but is a great boon in many more ways.  I pray for the principles upon which it is founded to continue to go to the whole earth.  I pray that those principles would be grasped by other nations and be implemented into their states.  I pray our nation might return to the principles of truth and freedom for which it is founded.

I remember the lives of those who were given for this freedom I enjoy and others do not.  Two of my Great Grandfather’s were gassed in WWI and both lived to tell the tale.  Both met painful and difficult deaths due to it.  One grandfather has purple hearts to show for his wounds and success in WWII.  The other grandfather tried to enroll, but due to health issues was not allowed to be a part.

I pray for the soldiers of freedom everywhere.  I care not what nation they represent, as long as they are there for liberty, freedom, and truth.  I pray God will bless those who represent those hopes and ideals.  That those who do not represent those ideals, or those they represent, will be thwarted in their designs.

It is with gratitude I offer my thanks to He who makes death not a fear.  I thank and give adoration to the Savior of all mankind, even Christ that we might all live again.  That despite wickedness and fear, we have nothing to fear but sin.  I express my deepest thanks for the restoration of His church back on the earth and the miracles which abound about us.  The gathering of lost nations, the restoration of Israel, the building up of the kingdom in preparation for the king whose right it is to rule.  My deepest sympathies are with the restoration and furthering of eternal purposes upon the earth.  My greatest joys and delight come from this impressive, yet almost unrecognizable effort happening in our midst.

I am pleased to have been born at this time of such great blessing.  It is with a certain hope I see the future, despite all which is prophesied to come upon us.  So much pain that the Saints will barely escape with their lives.  We have seen little or nothing of what is to come.  Nations will rise up against nations and desolation shall abound on all the earth.  Those of the order of God have not need to fear though.  This I am grateful for.  For the Priesthood which shall protect those within the covert from the storm, for the Resurrection that those who will be lost; both for their own sins and for a more full judgment upon the wicked.

Most close to home I thank for those who are dearest to me.  I am thankful for those who so deeply touch the deepest parts of my soul.  Many who are now separated from me by death, but that too shall not be for long.  My dearest wife, and all her splendor for which I am a blessed soul.  My parents who fought and struggled so hard for my upbringing and their abiding love for me. 

There is a whole multitude of souls I could reference for their influence in my life.  The more I learn and contemplate, the more I realize how intricately every soul is linked to one another.  Even years later we remember the influence of another.  There are influences from childhood, influences from events far away, and even influence from beyond the grave.

My heart is full.  I am thankful for all things. 

People

“I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm and is attentive to administering to the poor and dividing his substance, than the long smoothed faced hypocrites.”
That quote by Joseph Smith sums up much of what I believe.  I have been always so fortunate to end up with the salt of the earth, or at least being amongst them.

No matter where I go, or what I do, I have been very blessed.

I made a stop at the Oneida County Museum on Saturday.  I ended up chatting and visiting with those ladies for a length of time.  Most of them knew or knew of my relatives from Samaria.  It was a good day.  I sat and had lunch with an 88 year old, Daphne King Thompson.  She was a good lady.  We discussed her lawn, and she informed me about the Welsh Festival that had been revived in Malad.  Did you know Malad (Samaria) has the most Welsh people outside of Wales?  Yep, it is a bona fide fact.  BYU said so!  So I think I might join the Welsh Society.  After all, some of those Williams, Jones, and Evans are my relatives.  Also, seeing where I served in a mission for Northern Wales, and my ancestors really did come from Southern Wales, why not?  I can support a good cause.  So, if you are interested, www.welshfestival.com It is only $10!

Meier and Frank continues to go well.  I am now a full time painter.  Who would have thought.  That Law and Constitutional Studies major has come in mighty handy in telling that paint where to stick and not to.  Things are good at work.  I like having a my own list of things to do and having my own drive to get it done, rather than a taskmaster of any sorts.  Oddly, somehow moving from receiving to maintenance, my opinion actually counts for something.  I don’t know how a position change actually gave me intelligence in the presence of others, or at least an opinion to be expressed.

I stopped to visit my cousin Ralph Naef.  He is a 1st cousin, twice removed.  We share Regina Nuffer for an ancestor.  He came to our reception, which is a great thing, seeing how we had never met.  I promised I would stop to visit him.  We had a great conversation.  But moreover, he gave me a book.  Oh yes, more to add to my family history.  It contains the whole Naef family history, but I am only going to add the descendants of Charles Daniel Naef.  Ralph was telling me, that he has 600 and something direct descendents, and like 900 if you include spouses.  That is simply amazing.  That is from a number of descendants that was compiled over 10 years ago.  So I am sure there is well over a thousand now.

A good friend of mine from work, Bob Corliss, allowed me to look up some records on the internet with his information.  I stumbled upon a registration form for my great grandfather, David Delos Donaldson, and WWI.  He was working in Twin Falls, Idaho.  The best part is, we never knew he went to Idaho, ever.  Not only that, he was working there, and was exempted because he was working to support his younger siblings and mother.  He did later enter, we don’t know when or how, but went to France in the Argonne and was gassed there.  He suffered his whole life and eventually died from the mustard.
With this information, I went to visit my Uncle Dave Donaldson because my Dad did not know anything.  So I picked his brain.  We know little about my Great Grandfather before he married.  Now we know he was working for Ballantyne Plumbing in Twin Falls in roughly April 1917.  He served in WWI with two brothers.  As mentioned, he was hit with mustard, spent some time in hospital, and he wasn’t getting better, so they sent him home.  He married my Great Grandmother in 1919, Berendena Van Leeuwen.  They had 5 children.  During the great depression he worked down south as a plumber.  Dave did not know where, but there was a possibility it was at the Hoover.  When they went on a trip to Los Angeles, he insisted on stopping at Boulder City and the dam on the way home.  Oh, we do know that before they got married, he worked as a plumber in Phoenix.  How long we don’t know, but he could not bear the heat down there.  During the depression when he worked down south, the family stayed in Ogden.  Dave was young enough that he did remember his father coming home, but not where from.  Again during WWII, the whole family moved to Napa, California and Great Grandpa was a plumber at the naval yard there, he made it sound like Oceanside.  I do not know if there were any other naval bases down there.  Then they moved back.  The family must not have stayed down there, or he did not work the entire war, as my Grandpa and Grandma met in 1941-1942 at the Berthana on 24th street Ogden at a dance.  They were married in April 1942, shortly before he left for war.  They were not allowed to be married in the temple because Great Grandpa was not a member of the church.  I am not sure if this was to get him to join or what, but it backfired.  My Dad was born on 4 July 1943.  My father did not see my Grandpa until he was 3 years old when he returned from war.  Anyhow, Great Grandpa was a plumber by trade.  He worked up until the 1950’s when his health failed him.  He picked up smoking because it soothed his lungs.  It sounds like the mustard burned his lungs the rest of his life.  He would smoke to deaden the nerves.  Dave told me this increased until he died.  Even the last few years of his life, he had oxygen when he went places and when he slept.  But he kept smoking.  Dad told me of one of the few memories he had of his Grandpa.  He went to visit him in Ogden, Grant Ave if I remember right, and he was laying in bed.  There were newspapers all over the floor.  He got into a coughing fit and coughed a big thing of phlegm up and it went on the floor.  It was the combination of the irritation to the lungs from mustard, and the smoking.  It was what eventually killed him.  I was told the story that when he had had enough, he had my Great Grandma cook this big dinner, and he ate it, and then passed away afterward.  Apparently his body could not handle certain foods, especially meats.  He just could not take it any more and wanted a full meal.

Dave told me that David Delos Donaldson’s father, William Scott Donaldson was a plumber also.  Supposedly he had a confectionary in downtown Ogden at one time as well.  We have a picture of them standing in the store.  His mother, Mary Elizabeth Williams, was according to Dave a witch with a b.  She was high minded, snooty, and a brat.  Dave said never once that he was in her presence did she ever notice him or give him the time of day.  He said she was very negative and a condescending person.  Nothing went right, everything was wrong, and it was everybody’s fault.  He never liked his grandma, and would rather move out than be in the house when she went to move in.  At one point, Great Grandpa did not allow her to move in because Dave would move out.  She was the daughter of David D Williams, whose brother, John Haines Williams, is the father of those Williams who settled Samaria, Idaho.  All those William’s in the Malad Valley are my relatives, and they are the Welsh I spoke of earlier.

Berendena Van Leeuwen, my Great Grandmother was an amazing lady.  Everybody loved her.  Betty, Dave’s wife, told me that whenever she thinks of the Donaldson home in Ogden, she sees herself pulling in the drive, and the curtains parting and this little curly headed woman with a big smile with a little wave beaming at her.  She was an amazing cook, never using recipes.  She had an infectious laugh and loved everybody and everything.  In 1955 she was in an auto accident that handicapped her the rest of her life.  It was an Oldsmobile 88 that she went to pass a semi and he put her into a telephone pole.  She did some major damage to her hip.  She had a full body cast for a long time.  She had over 14 major operations.  The final one, one for kidney stones, weakened her enough that she died shortly after.  Despite 4 years or so of being handicapped, Dave and Betty told me that she was as chipper and happy as ever.  It did not even seem to phase her.  They took her camping several times, but the one they remember is the one before she passed away.  They would be out fishing and they would put her in a chair on the bank to watch.  She would giggle at the birds and them.  Betty insists that when she smiled the whole world brightened.  Dad remembers Great Grandma coming to visit with her monster bed.  Dave remembers that very well too!  After she went out to live with Grandpa and Grandma two different times for about a month each, he said she could go, but he was moving the bed no more.  Dad remembers her in a full body cast but she was funny.

Dad would tell me about Grandma always having home made bread.  They got in trouble more than once for coming home and taking some when they should not have.  Dad also told in Grandma’s funeral how Grandpa would come home, sneak in, ask if anyone was looking, and lay one on Grandma.  Other times he would come in and they would start dancing in the living room.  During the war, Grandma and Grandpa would kneel at 9 o’clock no matter where they were and pray.  In the spirit of oneness.

Anyhow, that is all I am going to share now.  There was more about David Delos’ siblings.  But I am not so sure on all that, need to do another interview, then I will comment.